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26 Jul 2013
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Since 1985, the American Cancer Society has held Relay for Life fundraising events in thousands of cities across the world. But as far as local organizers know, there’s never been a Relay for Life quite like the one taking place next Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3, at the Riviera Palm Springs. The Relay for Life formula is fairly tried and true: People form teams, gather pledges, and then take turns walking or running around a track (at a high school, for example) for a certain time period—often 24 hours. Spectators and supporters can show up and buy items from the various teams, each of which has a table set up. The proceeds go to the American Cancer Society—and those proceeds can be substantial: Cathedral City’s Relay for Life generally raises around $80,000 per year, and little Yucca Valley’s garners $100,000, said Jennifer Heggie, the local ACS Relay for…
22 Jul 2013
Contact in the Desert is “a gathering of the superstars of UFOlogy.” That’s how spokesperson and lecturer Michael Luckman described the event, slated for Friday, Aug. 9, through Sunday, Aug. 11, at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center. Organizers hope Contact in the Desert—which will feature lectures, workshops and interactive experiences conducted by 32 renowned experts in the topics of UFO sightings, extra-terrestrial contacts and proactive ET-signaling—will become an annual event. “More than 400 military personnel have given videotaped depositions worldwide saying that UFOs are real. They’ve had sightings and encounters,” said Luckman, “When so many military eyewitnesses come forward, there really is very little left to debate.” Luckman is also the founder of Cosmic Majority, which calls on “the governments of the world to implement an early warning detection system designed to reduce the growing meteor and asteroid threat.” Contact in the Desert comes on the heels of the Citizen…
04 Jun 2013
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Over the last decade, roller derby has made a massive comeback. Roller derby—a sport that was created in the 1930s—began that comeback in part because of all-female amateur leagues that started in places like Austin, Texas. It's slowly been catching fire across the nation and around the world. In fact, ESPN recently called roller derby the fastest-growing sport in the world. Many women of roller derby today are dedicated athletes, and women of all ages and backgrounds are signing up for local teams. The sport has gone back to its strategic and competitive roots after becoming something like a WWE on roller skates in the 1980s, when bouts had the reputation of being violent, and the winning teams were predetermined in some leagues. However, the amusing pseudonyms of individual players remain intact. In June 2012, Jessica Jeffries (known as Jessi James), who had moved to the Coachella Valley from San…
18 May 2013
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The Salton Sea area’s Salvation Mountain was handmade by folk artist Leonard Knight. That is right—handmade. By himself. Every single line of paint, every tree limb, every handmade flower on the walls, every “Jesus” written on the side of the 50-foot-tall mountain—all of it. Originally from the East Coast, Knight came out here to fly a balloon across the United States that he had made in the name of God, but the materials kept rotting. So Knight moved on to his new project and began to use what natural and materials were available to him. Using adobe clay, hay, water, found objects (such as tires and car parts) and—according to Leonard—a lot of faith, he built this gigantic tribute to God in the 1980s, epitomized by the words "God is Love" standing out underneath a giant cross at the top. Both religious and nonreligious people's faces light up when they…
09 May 2013
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Once I stepped into the one-story building off of Highway 111 near North Shore, I knew I would be going bananas. After all, this building is the home of the International Banana Museum. The first sense that is tested at the museum is smell, as you take in the aroma of banana-nut-bread candles. It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but it becomes a welcome cloak as you peruse the collection. Vision is the second sense that is bombarded: It’s hard to describe the sheer amount of banana-related items in that room. Books on bananas, plastic bananas, food with bananas, stuffed toy bananas, stuffed toy monkeys with bananas, Christmas banana trees, banana stickers, jewelry-encrusted plastic bananas, banana snow globes, crème de banana liqueur, banana monkey necklaces, a flute in the shape of a banana … the list goes on. The purchaser of the original Banana Club collection started by Ken Bannister, …
29 Apr 2013
Javier Avila and Calani Raceles are two young men with mental challenges doing the unimaginable—playing baseball. “At first, my son didn’t even want to show up. He couldn’t catch a ball, let alone hold a bat. Through this program, his hand-eye coordination skills have improved, and he can do all those things,” says Enia Raceles, Calani’s mother. “Now he looks forward to each Friday so he can hit again and talk to his baseball friends.” Both Javier and Calani are players in the Challenger division of Coachella Little League. The program is made up of more than 20 physically and mentally challenged young people with disabilities including autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. The division started in 2010 and is the only one in the Coachella Valley. “As the only division of its kind here in the Coachella Valley, we want to teach everyone with a disability that you can…
21 Feb 2013
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In 1952, rural Nebraskans encountered an extraordinary sight: an Army chaplain and his 11-year-old nephew zipping around the state in a silver Jaguar convertible. "People in Nebraska never saw such a thing as an open-topped sports car!" Robert Berlo, the nephew, told me last spring from his home in Livermore, Calif. Berlo didn't inherit his uncle's love of flash: He bought four cars in his lifetime, three of them white Toyota Camrys. But that long-ago Nebraska adventure sparked a lifelong obsession with cartography and a love of stringently organized road trips. "We went flying through this little town called Elm Creek, and I saw a sign on the crossroad that said 'U.S. Highway 183,'" Berlo recalled. "The only time in my life that I've seen an unpaved U.S. numbered highway." It was, in fact, the last U.S. highway to be completely paved. Berlo's uncle planned the trip using a system…

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